Sensational snapper fishing has been the story lately. Following the eight or more back-to-back low-pressure systems that pummelled the South Coast, avid snapper anglers hit the water and took advantage of a hot bite.
Soft plastic fishos, as usual, led the charge with Ben Roberts again racking up some impressive numbers of reds, many averaging 4.5kg. One recent session yielded 16 fish caught and released around dawn in just a few metres of water. Fish around the old-fashioned 10 pounds strip serious amounts of light braid and the adrenaline levels generally rise to heart-pounding heights.
With such fantastic results Ben should be quite contented but the loss of an estimated 8kg to 9kg monster still has him livid when recalling the story. The long fight had moved from the dangers of the shallow water and into the safety of deeper water. According to Ben the fish was nicely worn out when the brand-new 10lb braid simply parted in mid-water, resulting in the big red claiming 50m of his line.
Off the rocks, the average fish has been somewhat smaller with 3kg reds keeping everyone happy. If you are fishing off the rocks, coincide trips around the tide changes, use a variety of baits like squid, octopus and fish fillets and, sooner or later, you will succeed. Perseverance is the key to scoring reds off the rocks.
The huge seas have gouged out plenty of fishy-looking gutters. Malua Bay beach in particular has had a substantial gutter in close that looks like hanging around for a long time. Massive schools of salmon have been encountered there at times, with anglers firing out metal lures hooking a fish a cast. Forty fish per session has been common on the good days with nearly all fish being released.
The odd jewfish has been about, too, but numerous dips of the mercury into the minuses have kept all but the craziest jew angler at home in front of the fire. I'd expect a few more jewies to be caught over the next couple of moon phases as the weather slightly improves.
Speaking of released fish, I recently received a letter from DPI Fisheries informing me of the recapture of a kingfish I'd tagged back in February 2006. It was 47cm long when I released it at Pretty Point and weighed around a kilo and was recaptured off the 12 Mile Reef off Sydney 498 days later by Naohiro Kanno. It measured 78cm and would be likely around 5kg and moved a distance of 122.2nm from the point of release. If you fancy getting involved in game fish tagging, simply give Fisheries a ring to obtain a few tags, it's that easy.
A bit of life is returning to the estuaries already, which is a good sign. The Moruya River has large schools of mullet back in the system with some nice-sized bream in tow.
Trevally, too, have been seen cruising below the mullet with fish to 2kg regularly sighted.
With such extensive rainfall over the past few months I believe the next several months will see all of our estuaries bustling with life, particularly many of the sneaky little creeks that are best suited to paddle craft. The small creeks rely on good rains to open them to the ocean and flush them out. Some of the biggest bream of all can be found in the most insignificant creeks.
Bream numbers have been healthy around inshore islands and bommies, as many anglers casting plastics intended for snapper have revealed.
On and beyond the continental shelf, anglers continue to find quality yellowfin and albacore as well as great numbers of southern bluefin tuna to 57kg, with reports of even larger fish being captured further north.
If tuna fishing is on your to-do list, now might be a good time to call up a few charter operators and get a trip happening.
Luke Heron with just one of many quality snapper he has been scoring off the Moruya reefs.
Not every big hook-up offshore is a snapper, as this surprise big groper illustrates.
A 5" Berkley stickbait is a far cry from a red crab, but is there anything plastics don't catch?Reads: 499